Mom tied up toddler, put plastic bag over his head during house fire, officials say

U.S. & World

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (KTLA) – A mother was arrested after putting a plastic bag over her 3-year-old son’s head and tying him up as their Santa Paula, California home burned over the weekend, police said Monday.

Firefighters initially found the woman tied to a bed when they responded to a structure fire at a home on Bahia Circle about 6:10 p.m. Sunday, according to the Santa Paula Police Department.

While extinguishing the blaze in the downstairs living room, crews discovered the toddler alone in another bedroom. The boy had a plastic bag over his head and his hands were bound, a police news release stated.

Firefighters rescued the mother and child, and took both to a local hospital where they received treatment for smoke inhalation.

After the blaze was put out, detectives and arson investigators were dispatched to the scene.

Police interviewed the woman, 47-year-old Maricela Magana Ruiz, and then arrested her. They said they determined Ruiz had placed the bag over the child’s head and tied his hands before putting him in the bedroom by himself, according to a news release.

She was booked on suspicion of felony child endangerment and is being held at the Ventura County Jail on $50,000 bail.

A motive was not immediately known. Detectives are looking into the possibility it’s related to a domestic dispute over child custody, Police Chief Matthew Rodriguez said.

Investigators are also trying to determine if the blaze was intentionally set.

Austin Daniel, who lives two doors down from Ruiz, told KTLA her family kept to themselves in the typically quiet neighborhood.

Police have not released any additional information.

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